10 Reasons You’ll Love the Phoenix Musical Instrument Museum

A section of the Asia/Oceania display

The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) was founded by Robert J. Ulrich, former CEO and chairman emeritus of Target Corporation. An avid collector of African art and a world museum enthusiast, Ulrich and his friend Marc Felix originated the idea for MIM after a visit to the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels, Belgium.

Their unique vision was to create a museum and collection that afford equal representation to the musical instruments and music of every country in the world. Using state?of-the?art audiovisual technology to show musical instruments being played in their original cultural context and delivering the sound of these instruments through high-quality headphones, MIM provides a one-of-a-kind experience to museum guests.

MIM’s collection was assembled by five expert curators, with consultation from distinguished ethnomusicologists, organologists, and other field experts, under the supervision of MIM president and director Dr. Billie (Bill) R. DeWalt. The bulk of the collection is highlighted in Geographical Galleries that focus on five major global regions.

There are also special exhibition spaces such as the Mechanical Music Gallery, which features instruments designed to play on their own, and the Artist Gallery, which includes noteworthy musical instruments and artifacts associated with some of the world’s leading musicians. The museum opened its doors to great acclaim on April 24, 2010.

10 Reasons You’ll Love the Phoenix Musical Instrument Museum

  • Opened in 2010, it features 200,000 square-feet filled with nearly 15,000 instruments from around the world.
  • The collection is designed to showcase musical instruments from around the world in five global regions:
    • Africa and Middle East – features musical instruments from 47 sub-Saharan and 21 North African and Middle Eastern nations.
    • Asia and Oceania – features instruments from 50 countries and island groups in five sub-galleries devoted to the regions of East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Central Asia and the Caucasus.
    • Europe –  featuring musical instruments from 47 countries.
    • Latin America -features instruments and ensembles from 40 nationstates and territories displayed in three sub-galleries: South America, Central America and Mexico, and the Caribbean.
    • United States and Canada – exhibits are organized by musical genre. Ranging from hip hop to Sousa bands, the 36 displays in the United States/Canada gallery explore traditional and popular sounds from the Arctic to the Mexican border.
  • An African Thumb Piano from the Target Special Exhibit Gallery

    Wireless Audio & Flat-Panel Monitors – guests are given wireless headsets to wear throughout the museum. As they approach each display, they can watch and hear the instruments being played, either solo or as an ensemble.

  • Music Theater – an intimate 300-seat theater brings in an inspiring array of live concerts by artists from around the globe.
  • Conservation Lab – seen through a large viewing window, MIM’s Conservation Lab gives guests a behind-the-scenes glimpse at collection maintenance and preservation.
  • Architecture – the building is a work of art and worthy itself of your visit.
  • The Café at MIM – located within the museum’s walls, this fabulous café offers global cuisine, local and regional dishes, hand-tossed pizzas, grilled specialties, freshly made soups and salads, and delicious desserts. YUM!
  • Artist Gallery – see and feel the vibes of instruments played by music icons such as John Lennon, Paul Simon, the Black Eyed Peas, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, and many other popular musicians from around the world in the Artist Gallery.
  • Mechanical Music Gallery – features a selection of musical instruments that, by definition, “play themselves.” Considered by some as the predecessors of digital computers, mechanical instruments store music in different formats, with programs ingeniously devised in the form of barrels, cylinders, discs, rolls, and other technologies that allow for “playback.”
  • Experience Gallery – bang a gong, strum a Burmese harp, and play unique instruments from all corners of the world in the Experience Gallery. Let your imagination come alive in this unique, inspired musical world where you can touch, play, and hear exotic instruments.
Note:  here is a piece we did a few years ago that includes video from our visit.
Link:  Musical Instrument Museum

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